Effective readability and traceability are critical to success in the consumer electronics industry. By keeping track of products throughout their life cycle, manufacturers can protect themselves against costly recalls and product mix-ups, as well as implement effective “damage control” in the event of a problem.

It was with this in mind that Sony Malaysia (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia) set about upgrading the bar-code readers it was using to track MP3 player printed circuit boards. Its existing system had proved unreliable, with high code rejection rates and a tendency to incur excessive rework and rejection costs further down the line. To solve the problem, the company installed a series of In-Sight 5110 fixed-mount code-reader cameras from Cognex Corp. (Natick, MA), in the process improving reliability from 95 to 100 percent.

Production volume at the plant is approximately 40,000 boards per day. Prior to installing the In-Sight cameras, the company was experiencing a read-rejection rate of approximately 10,000 units per week, due to the fact that its system couldn’t accommodate things like lighting differences, product changeovers and variations in board presentation.

The In-Sight 5110, on the other hand, includes features like “perspective distortion support,”which ensures reliable reading even when the target is angled. The system is also capable of making multiple read attempts and adapting to each target as it is presented to increase the chances of a successful read.

The readers are now installed on all nine of Sony’s MP3 production lines, where they are providing read times of about 2 seconds per board, as opposed to the 10 seconds per board required by the previous system. Because of the readers’ 100 percent reliability, Sony no longer has to regularly stop production the way it did in the past. The company estimates the new system is saving it about $5,000 per week and will pay for itself within 10 months.

“The fact that we have improved our code reading times and increased our success rate to 100 percent saves us valuable time and boosts our production efficiency. We hope to implement these vision solutions elsewhere in other applications,” says Sony staff engineer TK Tan.

For more on code readers and machine vision, visitwww.cognex.com.